Everyone, including the loyal fanboys and the biggest trolls, can agree that 2016 has been a rough year for the DCEU. It doesn’t matter if you’ve loved all three films in this (quite literally) extended universe, the critical and commercial slaughters that Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice and Suicide Squad took were harsh and cruel. Some see this as rigid discipline for Warner Brothers to improve, some as negative hyperbole conspired at the hands of Rotten Tomatoes, and some rejoice in this glorious defeat to shine a brighter light on Marvel. The Ultimate Edition of Batman v Superman was a small glimmer of hope, while the Extended Cut of Suicide Squad doesn’t seem to sway anyone who disliked the theatrical version. So why should anyone in their right mind care about anything else they put out? Sure, Geoff Johns is the one navigating the ship now but he’s far from a business equivalent to Kevin Feige. And yes, the trailers for Wonder Woman are awesome, but if there’s any nice thing we can collectively say about DC it’s that their marketing is great. But the disconnect between super dope trailers and not-so-super movies has conjured up more concern than anticipation.
DC made a bold decision to release a trailer/footage/special cut/whatever of Justice League at this year’s San Diego Comic Con. Coming on stage to a roar of boos, Zack Snyder took control of the pessimistic narrative that all DC films are gloomy messes and presented two and a half minutes of humour, personality, and awe. The characters seem to be acting like their comic book counterparts and give life to their roles rather than present them in dour seriousness. Instead of avoiding the superhero ideals the footage embraces the pop aesthetic that is the biggest appeal of these characters. A lot of the Snyder-isms are still present: lots of testosterone, a cool rock song, and dialling things up to 11 like Aquaman downing a bottle of whiskey. But with that also came a greater colour palette, comedic delivery that doesn’t feel forced, and a sense of grandeur which suits this all-star team.
This isn’t the first time we’ve seen a great trailer for a Zack Snyder film. I adored every trailer for Man of Steel and walked out of the theatre with nothing but a sigh. I enjoyed Batman v Superman more than some but can admit it’s far from flawless and certainly reveals a studio’s attempt to catch up to their direct competition. But as someone who loves the world of DC, I can’t help but look at these upcoming releases with a sense of optimism. No, DC is not on a consistent track the way Marvel is. They have yet to truly find their footing after stumbling out of the gates. They come off just as reactionary as they’ve been ridiculed for being. Even with the lesser MCU films, most will agree that their films come from a place of heart and passion, whereas Warner Bros. approach their properties with nothing but dollar signs in their eyes.
While this year has been a tough one for DC in films, the opposite can be said for their comics. Geoff Johns‘ swan song was the introductory issue to the all new DC Rebirth. The purpose was to reset things after the convoluted and underwhelming New 52 and bring these heroes back to a place of recognition and hopefulness. It seemed the DC universe was drifting further into dark territories and this relaunch was a way of reigniting the bright heroism that is the foundation of these comics. If the cinematic universe is aiming to do the same, then we’ll see the DC characters we understand and have loved all along.
What do you think of Justice League? Is there any hope for the DCEU? Let us know in the comments or on Twitter!